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Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is one of the most coveted players on the trade market ahead of the Feb. 9 deadline, but it appears the team is not looking to move him.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Washington has informed interested teams such as the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns that Kuzma is not available to be traded “despite his objective to decline next season’s player option and test the open market.”
Earlier on Monday, the Wizards sent fourth-year forward Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for point guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks. The 2019 No. 9 pick became expendable after the emergence of Kuzma as a primary option for Washington this season.
The 27-year-old is averaging career highs of 21.8 points and 4.0 assists along with 7.6 rebounds and has thrived in his expanded role for the Wizards. The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Josh Robbins reported last week that the Wizards “received interest from multiple teams” on potential trades involving Kuzma, but team officials value him highly and hope to re-sign him over the summer.
“If the Wizards trade Hachimura, it could signal that team officials are confident they will be able to retain Kuzma,” Charania and Robbins stated at the time.
It’s clear that Kuzma will be Washington’s top priority this offseason, but the franchise has a lot of work to do to be a preferable destination for a rising young star. At 20-26, the Wizards are currently 1.5 games out of the play-in tournament and could miss out on the postseason for the fourth time in the last five years.
Washington will be looking to notch its third straight win when the team returns to action on Tuesday in a road matchup against the Dallas Mavericks (25-23).